The Chicago Bulls are taking care of their own. Rather than testing his market as a restricted free agent, Coby White signed a $40 million deal to stay with the team that drafted him for the next three years.
First reported by Shams Charania of The Athletic at three years, $33 million, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski shortly followed up with three years, $40 million.
NBC Sports’ KC Johnson reported that the deal could be “worth potentially $40M” indicating the $7 million difference between these two reports could be incentives and/or unlikely bonuses, wherein White’s base salary is roughly $33 million, but could rise up to $40 million in the event that he reaches certain thresholds (i.e. games played, various statistical thresholds, for example).
While we don’t know what those incentives are just yet, if White ends up making $40 million over three years, that will likely be a positive for the Bulls. Good things will have had to happen on the court for him to reach those incentives.
I had penciled in $14 million annually for White, and other projections had him in the $18 million range, so this deal comes in below expectations. And White could easily exceed the value of his $11 million annually as soon as next year. Even if he hits his max number, $13.3 million annually, it will barely exceed the $12.4 mid-level exception.
Entering his age-23 season, White still has plenty of room to improve. He’ll have a chance to do so with the team that drafted him, and with whom he showed improvement ahead of his fourth season.
Though White’s statistics don’t pop off the page (his points (9.7) and rebounds (2.9) per game were career-lows), White showed improvements in the form of basketball know-how and defense. His 44.3 percent field goal shooting and 57.1 true shooting percentage were career highs.
He opened up to CHGO Sports about his improvements earlier on in the 2022-23 season:
The Bulls were +5.2 points per 100 possessions better with White on the floor compared to when he sat, the third-highest number on the team, behind Alex Caruso and Derrick Jones Jr.
Obviously, the real value comes on the offensive end, where the Bulls were 6.8 points per 100 when White was on the floor, more than double the next closest team member.
Though each player is his own unique snowflake, it stands to reason the Bulls were apprehensive about letting White test the market after watching Wendell Carter Jr., and Lauri Markkanen blossom with other teams.
White should be happy about this deal as well. He secures a solid pay raise before reaching unrestricted free agency before he turns 27 as he continues to carve out a niche and develop within the Bulls’ organizational structure.
Grade the deal: A-